EU legislators advise review of PVC, BFR use in electronics

The European Parliament's Environment Committee stopped short of calling for a ban on the chemicals

The safety of some chemicals used by the electronics industry should be reviewed, members of the European Parliament's Environment Committee said on Wednesday.

However, the committee stopped short of ordering an outright ban on chemicals such as PVC, used as an insulator, and brominated flame retardants (BFRs), used in electronics products to reduce the risk of fire.

Committee members are concerned that PVC, BFRs and other substances used in consumer electronics can pose health or environmental risks during products' useful lives, or when they are recycled or disposed of.

"We know that substances such as halogenated flame retardants, PVC and phthalates can cause serious health and environmental problems during the treatment of electrical and electronic waste. This should be the first step in phasing them out," said Jill Evans, a member of the European parliament (MEP) representing the Greens/European Free Alliance group.

The MEPs are not alone: Campaign groups such as Greenpeace International are calling for manufacturers to eliminate PVC and BFRs from their products. Apple, Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Samsung, among others, have responded to Greenpeace's campaign by eliminating the chemicals from new mobile phone models.

"We welcome this step towards leveling the so called 'legal playing field', as it will ensure that leaders in the electronics sector that have taken voluntary action to remove these toxic chemicals are not left at a competitive disadvantage," said Iza Kruszewska, a Greener Electronics campaigner at Greenpeace.

Others were less impressed by the committee's decision.

"This is a missed opportunity. There are already products on the market free of the dangerous halogenated flame retardants and PVC, so MEPs could have simply rubber-stamped the phase-out of these chemicals," said Christian Schaible, Chemicals Policy Officer at the European Environmental Board (EEB), which describes itself as a federation of environmental citizens organizations.

Parliament's Environment Committee is revising the 2002 Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive, which sought to eliminate or reduce the use of certain toxic chemicals in electronic devices. One effect of that legislation was to force the industry to switch to lead-free solder in the construction of circuits.

PC manufacturers such as Acer, Dell and Hewlett-Packard have lobbied the committee to extend the restrictions, according to the EEB.

However, the committee has been subject to "heavy pressure from the chemical industry" to make no changes, according to Evans.

Worried that fresh restrictions might slow down deployment of new technologies such as solar panels, the committee has recommended that renewable energy technologies be excluded from the RoHS directive, with a review due in 2014, Evans said.

The committee's recommendations will be put to the vote in the European Parliament in July.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags european union

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Peter Sayer

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?